Transportation in Manila isn’t especially easy for tourists. There’s hardly any well working public transportation and traffic is horrible. In this guide, we’ll explain how to get around in Manila despite the difficulties.
Metro Manila, the area around the capital city itself, including areas like Pasay, Makati or Quezon City, has a real problem with its transportation system. Till today, there is no underground system and trains aren’t common in all Philippines. This means that basically all transportation is found on the road, which proofs difficult as the infrastructure just isn’t capable of the demand. However, change is coming with new transportation options in Manila. For now, it’s still difficult for tourists to get around in a city like Manila though.
Since 2008, Manila finally has a rapid transit rail system. As of today, there are three lines operated by two different companies. There are the so-called Manila Light Rail Transit System (LRT) and the Manila Metro Rail Transit System (MRT), both of whiche are part of an integrated system, which is supposed to get more extensive over the next couple of years. A further four lines are currently planned and should be realized in the upcoming years.
Two lines (the Green Line & the Yellow Line) go from South to North, while the Blue Line goes from the West to the East. All of the three lines have one interchange station with each other and operate quite frequently. The trains are relatively modern and all lines allow huge time savings compared to road transportation. However, neither of the lines runs between the historic city center and the important business district Makati, where most hotels are located. This means that you most likely won’t use the (cheap) rapid transportation system when visiting as a tourist.
MRT & LRT Lines in Manila:
Even though rail transportation is starting to get a more important means of transportation in Manila, most people still use road transportation to get from A to B. While there are several different bus operators in the metropolitan region, there’s hardly any proper bus system. Thus, you can’t find a lot of information about buses online. Fares are low, “tickets” can be bought at the driver. Buses are only one option in Manila though as you may also use so-called Jeepneys, which are an icon in Manila and often featured in tourist photos.
Jeepneys are basically a combination of a bus and a taxi and mainly operate on fixed routes with all destinations listed on the car. You can just hop on and hop off at any point, paying directly at the driver. Prices are cheap, but safety is a real issue.
Taxis in Manila are a cheap and often the easiest way to get around town in Manila. You can use taxis to get from the airport to the city or to get from one place to another. The traffic condition is so bad thought that you might need more than an hour even for shorter rides. When taking a taxi be aware that you need to negotiate the price before boarding. I’d recommend checking the condition of the car, too. There are some very old and not safe taxis around town, while there are also more modern ones. In Manila, you can also find a couple of different taxi companies, charging different prices, so be aware of that. Other than that, prices for taxis are generally quite low.
Obviously, Manila comes with several further means of transportation. Especially in the city center, you’ll run into tuck-tucks, horse carriages and more.
Other than that, a recommendation of mine would be using Uber. The ride sharing app usually offers better cars, fixed prices and higher safety. When visiting, I mainly used Uber and never had any problems. If you are looking for more comfort, you may also Uber Black.